Soil maximum available water content (MaxAWC) is a key parameter in land surface models (LSMs). However, being difficult to measure, this parameter is usually uncertain. This study assesses the feasibility of using a 15-year (1999-2013) time series of satellite-derived low-resolution observations of leaf area index (LAI) to estimate MaxAWC for rainfed croplands over France. LAI interannual variability is simulated using the CO2-responsive version of the Interactions between Soil, Biosphere and Atmosphere (ISBA) LSM for various values of MaxAWC. Optimal value is then selected by using (1) a simple inverse modelling technique, comparing simulated and observed LAI and (2) a more complex method consisting in integrating observed LAI in ISBA through a land data assimilation system (LDAS) and minimising LAI analysis increments. The evaluation of the MaxAWC estimates from both methods is done using simulated annual maximum above-ground biomass (Bag) and straw cereal grain yield (GY) values from the Agreste French agricultural statistics portal, for 45 administrative units presenting a high proportion of straw cereals. Significant correlations (p valueg 0.01) between Bag and GY are found for up to 36 and 53% of the administrative units for the inverse modelling and LDAS tuning methods, respectively. It is found that the LDAS tuning experiment gives more realistic values of MaxAWC and maximum Bag than the inverse modelling experiment. Using undisaggregated LAI observations leads to an underestimation of MaxAWC and maximum Bag in both experiments. Median annual maximum values of disaggregated LAI observations are found to correlate very well with MaxAWC.
Dewaele, H., Munier, S., Albergel, C., Planque, C., Laanaia, N., Carrer, D., & Calvet, J. C. (2017). Parameter optimisation for a better representation of drought by LSMs: Inverse modelling vs. sequential data assimilation. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 21(9), 4861–4878. https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-21-4861-2017